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Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Lawrence Alma-Tadema

*  1836 Dronryp bei Leeuwarden
† 1912 Wiesbaden

With his exquisite, refined and archaeologically accurate historical paintings Lawrence Alma-Tadema is considered a master of Victorian Art and Orientalism, which has recently regained broad recognition.
The painter, graphic artist and stage designer Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Laurens Alma Tadema) was born in the West Frisian town of Dronrijp near Leeuwarden in 1836, however, he was naturalized in Great Britain in 1873. Lawrence Alma Tadema completed his studies at the Antwerp Academy of Art under the historical painters Gustav Wappers and Nicaise de Keyzer between 1852 and 1857, additionally, he took classes with the archaeologist Louis de Taye in 1857. Since 1859 he studied with Hendrik Baron Leys, whom he also assisted in the creation of his murals. In his early creative period Lawrence Alma-Tadema made portraits, self-portraits and historical subjects from the Merovingian period ("Clotilde at the Tomb of her Grandchildren", 1858).
In the early 1860s Lawrence Alma-Tadema became acquainted with the Egyptologist Georg Moritz Ebers – a decisive encounter that would initiate his fondness for Egyptian motifs, which finally reached its climax after Lawrence Alma-Tadema's trip to Egypt (1902/1903). The wedding trip to Italy in 1863 would spur his favor for the depictions of Roman antiquities.
In 1865 Lawrence Alma-Tadema moved to Brussels, by that time he had already made a name for himself and received large commissions, for instance from the renowned art dealer Ernest Gambart.
After the death of his first wife in 1869, the painter went to London in 1870, where he found a new love that he married a year later. The couple lived in a property (Townsend House, Regent 's Park and Grove End Road, St. John 's Wood) that Lawrence Alma-Tadema had designed himself in a classic style.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema, who celebrated tremendous success in England, soon became one of the wealthiest artists of his time, especially since the British money nobility saw itself represented in his paintings of ancient Romans("Victorians in togas"). However, his fame was not solely owed to the subjects, but also to Lawrence Alma-Tadema's precise brushwork and masterly materiality, the reproduction of surface structures, especially of marble (his nickname was "Marble-Tadema"), precious metals and flowers. His cool style, which initially was a bit darker and later became lighter and shinier was much praised. From a purely external perspective it shows slight proximity to the Pre-Raphaelites and occasional to Impressionism. Lawrence Alma Tadema's historical panorama painting's with a great love for detail even inspired historical films in Hollywood.
Next to Lawrence Alma-Tadema's students John Collier and Hendrik Willem Mesdag and wife, many imitators, such as Edwin Long and John William Godward continued his style.
After Lawrence Alma-Tadema died in Wiesbaden on 25 June,1912, his body was transferred to London and honorably interred in the crypt of London's St. Paul's Cathedral.
Works by artist who was honored with countless awards and knighted in 1899, are now in major international museums such as the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum in London or the Hamburger Kunsthalle.